Trade Show Tips & Tricks
Attending a Trade Show as an exhibitor is a very different experience than attending as a regular attendee. Whether this is your first trade show ever or you're a seasoned exhibitor, we hope these Tips & Tricks will help make your experience a successful one!
First, Why Exhibit in TAA's Trade Show?
Most people will say "to get new business." As Rachel Garavito-Young with Loebsack & Brownlee, PLLC says, "it's more realistic to expect to 'create connections'." Berry Craven with Ginkgo Residential says the Trade Show floor is not the place to close the deal or get a signature on the bottom line. It's the place to introduce yourself, make a connection, and start or build on a relationship to "sell" later.
The property management industry is always growing and changing. Making connections now doesn't always result in an immediate sale. The needs of a property change on a daily basis and the connection you make today can lead to a new customer 6 months from now. The same goes for who is making the buying decision. Don't assume you shouldn't create a connection with someone in an entry-level position. Those are the future decision-makers. Creating and growing that relationship now has long term benefits!
Tips to Make Your Experience Successful
Make Your Booth Interactive
This can be something as simple as a giveaway. "Drop your business card for a chance to win!" Or, it can be more structured, like a game. Whichever option you choose, make sure it involves walking past you and talking to your booth representatives.
If you're offering a giveaway, there are endless options to make it unique. If you have the budget for it, get a big prize! Have it in the back of the booth, move your tables to the side and stand in front of your giveaway. Attendees will want to come into your booth to take a closer look. On a smaller budget? That's okay too! Purchase 5 to 10 smaller, but nice, giveaways. Think Yeti tumblers, or small tech gifts like a smart home hub. When you're giving away multiple prizes, people know they have more chances to win and are just as excited to enter!
Pro tip: Bring blank business cards or slips of paper for the attendees who forget, or don't have, business cards to enter your giveaway!
When you have a raffle prize, be honest about the winner! Don't sort through the business cards and choose that Regional or VP you've been trying to close a deal with. April Vasta with Blue Ridge Companies says she loves to win, but gets even more excited when she hears that one of her Groundskeepers won a raffle prize. To her, it shows integrity and makes her more interested in the Supplier.
If your operating a game, make sure the rules are simple. Don't plan anything that takes one person too long to play. Get them in, create a connection, and move on to the next person. They, and you, have a lot of people to talk to!
Engage with Attendees
Don't sit behind your table in your booth. Better yet, don't sit at all! When you put a physical barrier between yourself and the attendee, they feel like they're interrupting you. Move your table to the side or the back of the booth and stand towards the front. Be inviting and excited to greet people. Don't forget to wear comfortable shoes!
Market Ahead of Time
Rachel has a great analogy of a Trade Show... "The Trade Show is like the mall and your booth is like a store inside that mall. It's up to TAA to market the mall, but it's up to you to market your store." Reach out to your current and prospective clients. Let them know you'll be exhibiting and why they should stop by your booth. Briefly tell them what you'll be giving away or what new product you'll be demo-ing. You can, of course, include your booth number, but that's not what they'll remember, they'll remember why they need to find you that night.
Additional Prep Work
Talk to Your Team
What will happen if you get sick or have an emergency on the day of the event? Make sure you have a checklist, a drawing of what the layout should look like, and make sure another staff member knows everything you know about the Trade Show. Share information with your team!
If there is any chance you might need electricity, even to plug in your phone or laptop, please pre-order it with us! Electricity points must be dropped from the ceiling and are pre-set before the show day. If you do not pre-order electricity, and then request it the day of the event, we cannot guarantee to be able to provide it. This means you also need to bring extension cords. Since the electricity points are dropped from the ceiling at certain points along the aisles, you'll need to bring your own extension cords to run it to the area of your booth where you need it.
Supplies to Bring
While we might have some tape or scissors for you to borrow, you shouldn't count on TAA having enough extra supplies for everyone. Here are some of the top items seasoned exhibitors say to make sure you pack.
- Collapsible Wagon - makes set up and breakdown a breeze!
- Masking Tape
- Extension Cord
What NOT to Bring
- Don't bring food or beverages. It's part of our contract with the Fairgrounds that exhibitors won't provide food or beverage. The food vendors in attendance have received approval because they are licensed to serve. Food is included free as part of your attendance so please make sure you eat!
- Don't provide alcohol. Again, it's part of our contract. Serving alcohol requires a special permit and it's contracted through the Fairgrounds. Purchase drink tickets for the bar and hand those out instead!
- Don't bring a speaker or a way to play music. We ask that exhibitors not play any music during show hours. Can you imagine how it would sound with 1,800 people in the Trade Show hall with different music playing at each booth? I'm getting a headache thinking about it.
Okay, I feel like I'm ready to exhibit. What does the day look like?
8:00 am - Exhibitor Move-In Begins
You should set up as early as possible! TAA's 2020 Trade Show doors open at 8:00 am for exhibitors to begin setting up. Chris Fortune with Red Rhino Group says he arrives between 8:15 and 8:30 am. It takes him 30 to 45 minutes to set up and then he can leave, get some work done, and come back knowing his booth is ready to go. It also gives him a chance to make sure he has everything he needs! If he forgot something, he has plenty of time to grab it and bring it when he returns.
There is a roll-up door you can drive up to and drop off supplies, but the line to drop off can get long as the day progresses. The earlier you can arrive and set up, the less stressed you'll feel!
Please remember that each attendee must check-in at registration. We require all exhibitors to wear a name-tag while on the Trade Show floor form 3:00 pm onwards. This is to protect your investment! Non-exhibiting suppliers are not permitted to attend our show. Your name tag acts as your hall pass to be on the trade show floor. Coworkers/helpers coming to assist in set up, but not staying for the show, are allowed to assist between 8 am and 3 pm. After 3:00 pm, anyone in the building must wear their name tag.
3:00 pm - All Exhibitors should be set up and ready to go
3 - 4:00 pm - Exhibitor Food & Raffle Open
We ask that all exhibitors are set up and ready by 3:00 pm. From 3 - 4 pm, the food vendors are open for exhibitors and Battle of the Basket raffle tickets are available for purchase. Battle of the Baskets is a fundraiser hosted by the Education Committee raising money for TAAEF. Baskets are donated by TAA Members for you to purchase raffle tickets, then drop the tickets in the buckets for the baskets you'd like to try to win. At the end of the night, the winners are drawn live, in-person. You do not need to be present to win! If you're having a great conversation with an attendee, you do not need to rush through it to run over to the drawing. We'll save your basket and let you know you've won.
4:00 pm - Show floor opens and the rush of attendees begins!
Please make sure you are back at your booth by 4:00 pm. You'll notice several waves of attendees throughout the night. The first rush is right at 4:00. If you aren't standing in your booth, they'll breeze right past you.
Throughout the show, please remain in your booth as much as possible. If you need to grab some food, use the restroom, or take a break, please absolutely do so. We just ask that you, as an exhibitor, don't wander the aisles as the attendees do. Imagine how you'd feel if your competitor was wandering the aisles right in front of your booth. We've extended the show hours this year so the attendees have more time to make it to everyone.
8:30 pm - The show ends. Please don't break down early!
The show ends at 8:30 pm, not 8:00, not 8:15. We hear every year from a Maintenance Supervisor or Regional Manager that they had to arrive late due to working late that several vendors were already breaking down. It lessens their Trade Show experience and is a potential lost sale for you! The breakdown goes much faster than setup, just be patient, and please wait until 8:30.
The Trade Show is a great place to get to see a lot of current clients, potential clients, and friends. Prepare the night before by going to bed early. It's a long day and we want to see you still smiling at 8:30 that night!